This past week, The Blaze, USA Today, The Indianapolis Star, Inside Edition, and Fox News Channel detailed a story about an alleged demonic possession that took place in Indiana. You can both read the story and watch the videos from The Blaze, Fox News, and The Indianapolis Star. I would suggest reading at least the Fox News or Blaze article to get a decent idea of the story before continuing.
I posted on Facebook that I had some misgivings, not about the veracity of the account, but about how things were handled to “solve” the situation that the involved family was enduring. People started asking questions about what I thought. Because this is somewhat of a hot topic right now, and because people are seemingly open to believing just about anything about angels, demons, and God, I want to shed some light into some of the things being discussed by the media and the people being interviewed.
First, let me start with some biblical basics about this subject:
- Demons exist. They are fallen angels who rebelled with Lucifer (later renamed Satan) at the great rebellion against God. A full one-third of the created angels fell and became demons. There are no fewer in existence than existed at creation. They are spirits, and therefore, everlasting. Most still ravage Earth and its inhabitants, though, according to Scripture, some are in chains awaiting judgment.
- Demon possession still takes place. However, this does not mean that every encounter that an individual has with a harassing spirit is possession. The original writers of the Bible (or maybe those who first translated or rewrote the autograph—original, handwritten—manuscripts) didn’t use different words for what we know today as possession and oppression. There is a big difference between the two.
- Christians cannot be possessed. Heavy oppression can take place, but if the Holy Spirit lives inside of a person, He is at the core—the heart—of the individual, and a demon cannot inhabit that same place.
- Scripture does not say that a place/building can be possessed or inhabited by a demonic spirit. That’s not to say that I think it’s impossible. I think that there are too many experiences that people have had to confidently suggest otherwise. Scripture tells us a couple of things that may be related to this: 1. If a person brings a cursed object into his house, the home can/will become cursed (Deuteronomy 7:26). 2. There are “princes” (also known as principalities) and “powers” that seem to rule over areas (Ephesians 6:12). There is some debate on the extent to which they have or can do this, and since I’m not an expert anything I say would just be unfounded opinion.
- Scripture discusses how demons are ejected from people (though not from buildings).
All right, let’s get to the heart of the matter discussed in all of these news sources.
Here are some of the facts as reported in these sources:
- Multiple people, both inside the family that owns the home in which most of these experiences occurred and those who visited the home, witnessed several of the events.
- People in a medical facility also witnessed some strange occurrences when the family arrived for medical treatment and observation.
- Police who later entered the “possessed” house, according to Lake County police records, also encountered some strange happenings, some of them captured on an audio device and with cameras and camera phones.
- Witnessed by multiple individuals were events such as levitation of a child above a bed, a boy crawling backward up a wall to the ceiling (in a hospital room), and deep man-like voices emanating from the children whose ages were (at the time) 7, 9, and 12.
- At least 3 exorcisms were performed by a Catholic priest on the mother of the children before the demons seem to have departed.
One of the things that needs to be known is that Latoya Ammons, the mother in the midst of all of the chaos, professes to be a Christian. I’m assuming that her claim, based on some of the things she says in her interviews, is that she is a ‘born-again’ Christian. This is an important aspect of what I’m going to address.
When Ammons starts dealing with the fearful episodes that begin to erupt, she does what she believes is the right thing to do, call Christian churches to help her. This is a smart move that turned out to be shameful for the community of Christian leaders in the area surrounding her. Ammons alleges that the churches from whom she sought help dismissed her and would not respond. All but one. This church gave her some non-biblical advice.
According to The Indiana Star:
“They called local churches, but most refused to listen.
“Eventually, after listening to Campbell and Ammons talk about the house and visiting it, officials at one church told them the Carolina Street house had spirits in it. They recommended the family clean the home with bleach and ammonia, then use oil to draw crosses on every door and window.
“At the church’s suggestion, Ammons said she poured olive oil on her three children’s hands and feet, then smeared oil in the shape of crosses on their foreheads.”
Based on the article, that’s apparently all that was suggested, then the church was done with the situation.
Bleach and ammonia? Just take some olive oil and draw crosses on doors, windows, and heads? Really, now. That’s very helpful. Tell me the Scripture verses that show these to be remedies.
Beyond these instructions, which Latoya Ammons dutifully administered, she decided to call a friend. In a video interview with Inside Edition, Ammons said, “This was obviously demons. Not just random spirits. Because there is a difference. … I spoke to a good friend of mine, he was clairvoyant. He’s in New York. He explained to me what was going on in the house.”
The Indiana Star article expounded further:
“Campbell and Ammons also told The Star they reached out to two clairvoyants, who said the family’s home was besieged by more than 200 demons. Their explanation made sense to Campbell and Ammons, they say, because it meshed with their Christian faith. …
“Also on a clairvoyant’s advice, they burned sage and sulfur throughout the house, starting upstairs and working their way down. The smoke was so thick they could hardly breathe.”
In case you unsure what a clairvoyant its, he or she is somebody who is supposedly able to perceive things that are usually beyond the range of human senses, i.e. ghosts, demons, etc. Scripture makes it vehemently clear that we are not to consult with such individuals. These people are both deceived and are working in opposition to the things of God (regardless of what they may say to the contrary). This is a ‘ding’ against her Christian walk, belief in the Bible, and her overall faith. We do not consult with people who consult with demons about how to get rid of demons. It is a demonic ruse, a trap to keep people distracted from the Word of God and God’s ways of handling situations.
One episode in the midst of all of the events was the wall-walking incident at a local hospital. After this took place, hospital security officials called in a chaplain. It doesn’t say what this man believed (what faith he practiced), but ultimately he called on the Rev. Mike Maginot, pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church.
Ultimately, the priest visited the home, interviewed the family, and witnessed for himself some rather strange happenings within the house. According to The Indianapolis Star,
“After a four-hour interview [with Campbell and Ammons], Maginot said he was convinced that the family was being tormented by demons. He said he also believed there were ghosts in the house.
“Maginot blessed the house before he left — praying, reading from the Bible and sprinkling holy water in each room.”
USA Today said, “Father Mike performed a blessing, but found an exorcism was in order … and another, and another.”
After the time spent with the family (including the eventual exorcisms), the Rev. Maginot, in a televised interview said, “[The family] saw a shadowy figure pacing back and forth in the living room.” Speaking of the boy who crawled up the wall and did a back flip over those in the hospital room, the priest said, “And then there was the psychologist and the social service worker in that room that saw tha and they ran out and got the security. The security called the chaplain, and then, you know, he called me. And they got the police involved and all that.”
According to the priest, he performed the Catholic Church’s exorcism “rites” up to three times before the demons vacated the body of Latoya Ammons.
Okay, here are my problems with the things that occurred during the “answer” stages of all these demonic activities. First, if we assume that Latoya Ammons is a born-again Christian (according to John 3:3 & Romans 10:8-10), then she unwittingly spends part of her life consulting with demons (via clairvoyants) to get answers. I believe that this is one way to invite a curse into a home. Second, it is shameful (yes, that word again) that the local body of believers, through the heads of local Christian churches, refused to get involved on her behalf.
Personally, I have been involved in several of what most non-denominational/protestant churches would call “deliverances.” Though this may be a matter of semantics regarding this demonic account, “deliverance” is a more appropriate name, in my opinion.
Proper deliverance experiences should always take place after a person becomes a Christian. The Christian is delivered from an oppressing spirit(s) at that point. One of the things not addressed in any of the media stories that I saw was the issue of possession and what it means. Also, not addressed was what happens to a person who is eventually released by a possessing or oppressing spirit after the deliverance takes place. Scripture makes it clear that the person must have an altogether different inhabitant from the demonic spirit(s) that departed. If the person does not invite the Holy Spirit to live within him/herself by accepting Jesus as Savior, the demon that left will come back and invite others, stronger than itself, to reside within that same host. If a truly possessed individual seeks deliverance, he or she must either accept Christ prior to the deliverance OR during a period of lucidity before the deliverance, must know of the risk of not accepting Christ/the Holy Spirit after the demon(s) departs.
If Latoya Ammons is a true Christian, then her spirit is protected, but her mind (soul) and body are not … IF she continues to put her faith in demonic mediums such as clairvoyants. She can remain heavily oppressed by demonic spirits if she goes back to consulting with practitioners of the occult.
Getting back to the proper vs. improper ways to bring about a person’s deliverance, the priest who performed the exorcisms, in his own words, indicated that he at one point touched the forehead of Ammons with a crucifix which caused a rather negative reaction by the infesting demon. Nowhere in Scripture is it indicated that using a religious object is appropriate/suggested in dealing with demons. The same applies to the idea “holy” water.
When preparing for a deliverance session with an individual there are certain things that should take place–Scriptural things. One is that the host needs to first become a Christian so that when the demon departs it cannot come back and re-inhabit that newly-delivered individual. Another is that some demons, according to Jesus, require that a person a pray and fast prior to the demons being called out. This is something that is appropriate for both the person in trouble and those performing the deliverance. Also, Scripture makes it clear that it is by the authority that is given to the born-again believer that a demon must leave. It’s not about “rites,” it’s about the person knowing his authority in Christ Jesus.
Now, is it all as simplistic as knowing those few things? Mostly. But one of the things that the priest alluded to was getting to the point of identifying the inhabiting demon(s). Many times the demons have rights to be where they are. By knowing the demon’s name or its function (suicide, pride, fear, etc.), the person(s) performing the deliverance can determine his next “move” in breaking down the demon’s right to stay within the host, and then, ultimately, set the person free.
We, as Christians, need to know about this Spiritual Warfare stuff. It’s important. Scripture says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers (Princes/Principalities) and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
We need to stay completely away from demonic influences that so many people (including many Christians) think are just harmless fun: Tarot card readings. fortune tellers, mediums, clairvoyants, astrology, Ouija boards, etc. These are all cursed things that will bring a curse into a person’s life. If an individual trusts in anything that is not God’s Word, His love, and His power, he or she is opening up to darkness. That includes trusting in something evil called “Luck.”
Why would a Christian trust in luck when it is a make-believe power that is separate from God? As for me, I’ve eliminated the word from my vocabulary. I do not ever say “Good luck” to anyone. Why would I do that when I could, instead, speak God’s blessing over that person? Why would you or I ever want to give credit to “luck” for the good things that happen in our lives.
We are about to enter a darker time on this earth. Darker than has existed since before the Flood of Noah. Scripture makes it clear that demonic activity is going to rise. There are going to be people who will be able to perform amazing signs with “their” powers. Many people are going to remain away from God and His grace for so many reasons, but those reasons include falling prey to things that look powerful, things that look as though they provide answers. They are going to seem right to so many, including some Christians (as evidenced by the account of Latoya Ammons). The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end he will find that it was the way of death.”
What way are you going to take? Do you want to walk into a trap or do you want to walk in freedom?
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
(Traditional Scottish Prayer)
What say you?